Most states offer alternative routes to teacher certification other than traditional four year colleges and universities as a way to fill teacher shortages and diversify the workforce, among other reasons. But some are better than others in ensuring quality educators with the appropriate amount of practice and expertise.
Using the most recent publicly available information, NEA surveyed alternative routes to certification programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to better understand how educators are being trained and supported to be successful in the classroom. The result is a state-by-state compilation of state-approved alternative certification programs, key features, and requirements.
“The students and communities we serve are counting on us to ensure that future educators are ready to meet each student’s unique needs, helping them learn and succeed. As alternative routes to certification expand as a strategy to solve growing teacher shortages, we must ensure that all routes to educator certification demonstrate that these programs meet high standards and provide profession-ready completers,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.
“Let’s unite as educators to insist that preparation programs provide our future colleagues with ample practice under the guidance of expert teachers (or teaching experts), so they develop the knowledge and skills for effective classroom practice before they become teachers-of-record.”
The bottom line: States vary considerably in their approaches to alternative routes to certification. Three states (Alaska, Oregon, and Wyoming) have no approved alternative programs to prepare prospective teachers, while Texas tops the nation with nearly 100 approved programs. Other states fall somewhere in between, offering anywhere from a few to dozens of programs.